Spring Perspectives on Teaching Conference

Perspectives on Teaching Conference

Spring Perspectives on Active Learning 

Date: May 15, 2019
Location: Morning keynote is in SSC 2050, all other sessions are in UCC

Opening Remarks - 9:00 am to 9:15 am - SSC 2050

Andrew Hrymak, Provost & Vice-President (Academic)
Nanda Dimitrov, Director, Centre for Teaching and Learning

Keynote - 9:15 am to 10:30 am - SSC 2050

Mike Atkinson

Active Learning: What You Can Do and Why It Will Work

Mike Atkinson (Psychology)

The benefits of active learning for students have been documented by many authors (e.g., Barkley & Major, 2018). But how exactly does active learning increase engagement, focus and motivation? How do active learning approaches impact students differently than didactic approaches or traditional lecturing? In this talk, Dr. Atkinson will examine the research on the cognitive, emotional, and physiological changes that accompany active learning and suggest a variety of strategies that you can use to engage students in the classroom.

Dr. Mike Atkinson Biography

Dr. Mike Atkinson is Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Western University. Mike is an expert on large class instruction and the use of multimedia in the classroom. He is a recipient of the Edward G. Pleva Award for Excellence in Teaching (2006), the University Students' Council Teaching Award of Excellence (1996), the 3M National Teaching Fellowship (1998), and six-time recipient of the Western Psychology Professor of the Year Award. Mike is also a Teaching Fellow in Western’s Centre for Teaching and Learning with a focus on Active Learning, Large Class Teaching, and Assessment. He has delivered over 300 presentations and talks on teaching in higher education and has been featured in Maclean’s magazine, Media television, the Globe & Mail, and the APA Monitor.

Refreshment Break - 10:30 am to 11:00 am

Outside Social Science Centre Room 2050. This break is dedicated to celebrating Western's amazing teaching award winners.

Concurrent Sessions A - 11:00 am to 12:00 pm - UCC

A-1   UCC 146
Welcome to
My Classroom 

Using Active Learning Exercises to Create Engaged, Critical Communities of Learning 

Lauren Barr (Sociology)
Lorna Ferguson
Lucas Hendsbee


In this session we will review two teaching activities used in sociology classes (100-215 undergraduate students) to encourage active, critical and connected learning. The first activity encourages participation, it helps build community and encourages students to think deeply. The second activity uses design thinking strategies (Stanford dschool) to practice applying material to propose solutions to real problems. We will examine some of the benefits, strategies and challenges of active learning in large undergraduate classes. For me active learning is messy, chaotic and fun. I hope you enjoy the experience! (Each of these activities can be used in a variety of disciplines with easy adaptation)


A-2   UCC 37
Conversations about 
Active Learning Strategies

Active Learning in a Lecture-based Math Course: Strategies for Instructors in STEM Disciplines 

Lindi Wahl (Applied Mathematics)


In this session, I will describe my recent experience with incorporating active learning in every lecture of a second-year 80-student math course.  Participants will take part in example learning activities, and in an open discussion regarding strategies that have proven feasible in our disciplinary teaching.  Throughout the session, I hope to emphasize long-term learning outcomes, that is, teaching with the aim of maximizing what students will be able to do several months after the final exam.

Immersive, Collaborative Learning in the Science Classroom

Christina Booker (Chemistry)


Learning science is fascinating -- but also daunting to many undergraduate students. Thus, I engage my students in discussions with their peers, reflections, and creative enactments, often facilitated through iClicker questions, to lead to greater learning and engagement. The strategies shared within this session are intended to inspire you to strategically engage your own students with concepts in your discipline, creating an immersive, fun, and challenging active learning experience. Both large and small class experiences will be discussed.

A-3   UCC 41
Conversations about 
Active Learning Strategies

Beyond Learning by Doing: Ubuntu Competency as a Pedagogical Paradigm

Henri Boyi (French Studies)


Ubuntu, which means I Am Because We/You Are and much more, takes learning to a higher-order of thinking through human interconnectedness. In an active learning environment, ubuntu competency fosters more self-reflection, engagement, relationship, and leadership in a bid to build a community of better human beings. Using experiences from my Community Engaged Learning course, I suggest that ubuntu as a pedagogical paradigm can improve intercultural competence, community building, true partnerships, and help ‘humanize the future’.

Simulation and Apprehension with Digital Dentistry: Is Active Learning Really Necessary? 

Les Kalman (Dentistry)


This Conversation About Active Learning Strategies will present an innovative active learning digital dentistry elective course that was developed and delivered to senior dental students.  In addition, a review of the students’ perspective on teaching, assessed though a questionnaire that was distributed before and after the course, will be presented to better understand the relevance and importance of the elective. Attendees will be encouraged to reflect on how to apply competency-based learning to their courses.

WALS Tour - 12:00 PM to 1:00 PM - UCC 66

Have you considered booking your class in one of our Western Active Learning Spaces (WALS)? Stop by WALS in UCC 66 anytime from 12:00 – 1:00 p.m. to tour the room, test out the technology, and discuss booking your class in this high-tech, collaborative space.

Concurrent Sessions B - 1:15 Pm to 2:15 pm - UCC

B-1   UCC 66
Welcome to
My Classroom

Are You Listening? Promoting Active Listening in the Classroom 

Angela Borchert (Modern Languages & Literatures)
Amrapali Chatterjee (Modern Languages & Literatures)


Let us open up a dialogue on questions of active listening: What does it take to be an active, even empathetic listener? How do we model good listening in facilitating our classes? What kind of activities support developing good listening practices? How can we incorporate learner and cultural diversity in developing listening skills? Engage listening in traditional active learning exercises like fish-bowl or rotating chair discussions and more unusual ones involving LEGO and a human library in the WALS classroom.


B-2   UCC 37
Conversations about
Active Learning Strategies

Prepare to Be Active: Managing Student Expectations for Active Learning

Sarah McLean (Physiology & Pharmacology, Anatomy & Cell Biology)


So you have a) decided to try active learning or b) have been implementing it for a while and want to get more student participation and buy-in.  In this session, you will learn simple, straightforward strategies to engage learners from day 1 in your class and prepare them for active learning. The session will be interactive and tailored to the participants' experience.

Implementing Active Learning and
Modelling Study Strategies in Tutorials of Large Courses

Anita Woods (Physiology & Pharmacology)
Angela Beye (Physiology and Pharmacology)


In our large introductory courses, we find that students don’t understand the difference between memorization versus deep learning. Through active strategies, we remodelled our weekly tutorials to incorporate group learning activities. For example, we had students use playdoh to model the nephron, calculate alveolar ventilation to a Queen song, and create analogies. Although this is a significant undertaking, we have observed a shift in learning attitudes that we will quantify with a follow-up research study.

B-3   UCC 41
Presentation of Research on Teaching and Learning

Using Educational Escape Room Activities to Teach Teamwork Skills & Build Effective Teams 

Nicole Campbell (Physiology & Pharmacology)
John Kelly (Anatomy & Cell Biology)


Undergraduate students often reflect that they are not provided with enough opportunities to learn about teamwork skills and develop them before working with their peers. Educators are also conflicted about how to establish effective student teams. Therefore, we developed an educational escape activity to teach teamwork skills. We also had students complete a self-efficacy of teamwork skills survey following the escape activity and used the results to form teams.

Improving Student Writing Confidence and Decreasing Fear Through a Class Blogging Experience

Melissa Jean (Management & Organizational Studies, Brescia University College)


The primary purpose of this research project on teaching and learning is to evaluate the effects of a class blogging assignment on student writing apprehension and writing confidence (self-efficacy) while exploring student mindset orientation. This session will be of interest to instructors who would like to discover (1) the motivation for creating a class blogging experience, (2) how to structure a class blogging assignment, and (3) the preliminary results of the research study.

Refreshment Break - 2:15 pm to 2:30 pm

Outside University Community Centre Room 146.

Closing Plenary - 2:30 pm to 3:30 pm - UCC 146

Student Perspectives on Active Learning

Student Panel: Erin Anderson (English & Writing Studies), Emma Bertucci (Managment and Organizational Studies), Shauna Morrell (Genetics), Zain Raza (Medical Sciences), Yoah Sui (Kinesiology)

This closing plenary will highlight student perspectives on the active learning classroom. Five students (undergraduate and graduate) will draw on their experiences to discuss what they have gained from active learning, how active learning has helped them apply complex concepts in their discipline, and how instructors have helped them navigate the challenges associated with active learning experiences.


Conference Information


Registration Instructions

  1. Login to CareerCentral using your Western username and password.
  2. Go to the Conference page and select the sessions you wish to attend
  3. You will receive an automated confirmation email to your Western email account. 

If you have any questions or problems registering for an event, please contact ctl@uwo.ca.


This event is open to all; however, it is designed with instructors in mind.


  • Fall Perspectives - August 27, 2019
  • Spring Perspectives - annually in May


Applies to following certificates

Western Certificate in University Teaching and Learning

What to Expect

Offered twice a year, Perspectives on Teaching is a full-day conference designed to showcase teaching innovations at Western, and introduce instructors to best practices in student-centered instruction which can enhance the student experience. Approximately 300 faculty, graduate student instructors and staff participate in each Perspectives on Teaching conference. The conference program typically includes a keynote address and 6-9 concurrent sessions.

Faculty members are invited to present innovative teaching approaches or research on their teaching during Spring Perspectives each year.  The call for proposals is typically announced in December.

Previous Conference Programs

Visit our Youtube Channel for video clips from past conferences.



"The keynote speaker addressed a topic that is highly relevant to all university educators. He provided a clear definition of critical thinking as well as many very practical examples and suggestions for implementation. I think the key was how practical it was -- I could easily imagine implementing strategies he suggested in my courses, and had several ideas for how to use the information in my courses during the talk.  
(Fall Perspectives, 2017 - Keynote by Garfield Gini-Newman, University of Toronto, on Teaching Critical Thinking)

"I was most captivated by the notion of "method knowledge" vs. "content knowledge" and was challenged to envision how that could be better incorporated in my own teaching. Being a part-time faculty member, I rarely have time to evaluate my 'pedagogy'; it was a great time to reflect, and be spurred into action!"
(Spring Perspectives, 2017 - Dr.Nancy Chick, University of Calgary, on Signature Pedagogies)